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Social Issues
Can Apple Make A Conflict-Free iPhone?
January 26, 2012
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Delly Mawazo Sesete is a lawyer and activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Someday, he would like to own an iPhone.

But Sesete says he has has seen too much of the negative impact that the electronics industry has had on his homeland to feel comfortable about buying one. The DRC has been racked by civil war and conflict for almost two decades, and much of this has been the result of armed groups vying for control of mineral production.

The minerals in question are tungsten, tantalum, tin and gold - materials used in almost all currently available consumer electronics. While Congo has been blessed with large amounts of these valuable resources, it has also been cursed with ongoing violence between parties hoping to capitalize on them - and the inability of the mining industry to enrich more than a small percentage of the country's population.

Sesete recently wrote an editorial for the Guardian newspaper's "Comment Is Free" section in which he itemized the atrocities he says he has witnessed connected to electronics production. But he also proposed a solution:

"The good news is that your favourite electronics don't have to fund mass violence and rape in the Congo, and neither do mine. That's why I'm asking Apple to make an iPhone made with conflict-free minerals from the Congo by this time next year. Apple has been an industry leader in both supply chain management and making corporate social responsibility a priority. In the past two years, Apple has taken great strides to source minerals responsibly and control their supply chain."

To that end, Sesete has launched an online petition, in which he asks Apple CEO Tim Cook to commit to making an iPhone with conflict-free minerals in time for Christmas 2013. So far, his petition has raised more than 57,000 signatures, with a stated goal of 75,000.

If you would like to learn more about the role of consumer electronics in fuelling Congo's internal conflicts, follow the link to read Sesete's piece for the Guardian; you can also read Erin Banco's investigation into the issue in The Atlantic.

To see Sesete's online petition, visit his page at Change.org.

You can listen to his interview with Public Radio International at PRI's The World.

Related Stories on Strombo.com:

Election Watch: Democratic Republic of Congo

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